After Further Review: 'Part of sports'

After further review …

It was a perfect storm for openers.

The 49ers were very good.

The Steelers were not.

And circumstances, at times, conspired to push the Steelers into the abyss.

"It's just part of sports," running back Najee Harris observed.

It is, at that.

Harris wasn't ducking responsibility or passing the buck.

Stuff happens.

When it happens enough times in the same game, you get beat 30-7, as the Steelers did on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

One of the dagger plays was San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey's 65-yard touchdown run two plays into the second half.

The Steelers, after a disastrous first quarter-plus, had threatened to crawl back into it by finally cobbling together enough offense to drive 95 yards on 12 plays in 1:25 and score a TD that cut the San Francisco lead to 20-7 with 10 seconds left in the second quarter.

But on the second play of the second half 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey took a handoff on first-and-10 from the 49ers' 35-yard line and didn't stop until he had reached the end zone.

Suddenly, it was once again an uphill climb.

Up Mount Washington without an Incline.

The 49ers blocked the play exceptionally well, up front and down the field. Wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Ray-Ray McCloud ensured what might have otherwise been a big play turned out to be one that changed the scoreboard.

The Steelers still had a chance to stop it but couldn't.

Outside linebacker T.J. Watt was unblocked off the left edge of the defensive set. Watt wound up with three sacks on the day, but in this instance he couldn't track down the play from behind (a tough play but one he's made with regularity over the years).

Perhaps that's what Watt was indirectly referencing when he acknowledged "so many more plays to be made out there, myself included."

The other unblocked defender on the run was cornerback Levi Wallace, who got in front of McCaffrey 2 yards past the line of scrimmage.

At first glance it appeared McCaffrey spun away from Wallace, but Wallace didn't think that's what happened by design.

"I didn't even think (McCaffrey) saw me," Wallace maintained. "He got hit by somebody else and then spun around. I thought I had a clear shot at him. It just kinda happened like that, it's football. But good move by him, he's a good back."

A second look at the play confirmed Wallace's assessment.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander crashed down and drove center Jake Brendel into McCaffrey just as McCaffrey was running through the initial hole. What turned out to be a hip check from Brendel spun McCaffery around, intentionally or otherwise, and away from Wallace. McCaffrey kept his balance and the rest is highlight reel history.

"Whether he did it on purpose or by accident, the result is the result and he took it to the house," Wallace said.

The Steelers had enough trouble stopping the run that they didn't need that.

And the 49ers ran it well enough that they probably didn't need that, either.

But it happened.

So did wide receiver Diontae Johnson slipping and falling on what turned into an interception.

And tight end Pat Freiermuth slipping on what should have been a third down conversion.

And cornerback Patrick Peterson slipping on what became a touchdown reception.

The 49ers were clearly the better team for the first 60 minutes of the season.

Two plays confirmed that as well as any others, Aiyuk's combat TD reception on a fade over Peterson and wide receiver George Pickens coming down with the ball but out of bounds when the Steelers had a chance to make the same play.

San Francisco consistently made more plays than the Steelers, and when that happens games are usually lost.

The slipping, sliding and spinning is how 30-7 occurs.

In the words of the immortal Jimmy Buffett, breathe in, breathe out, move on.